French Union

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French Union
Union française

Flag Coat of arms
"Liberté, égalité, fraternité"
"Liberty, equality, brotherhood"
La Marseillaise
Territories of the French Union.
Capital Paris
Languages French
Political structure State union
Historical era Cold War
 -  Fourth Republic October 27, 1946
 -  Fifth Republic October 5, 1958
Currency French franc
CFA franc
CFP franc
French Indochinese piastre
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Provisional Government of the French Republic
French Community
Kingdom of Laos
State of Vietnam
North Vietnam
Kingdom of Cambodia
French Guinea

The French Union (French: Union française) was a political entity created by the French Fourth Republic to replace the old French colonial system, the "French Empire" (Empire Français). It was the formal end of the "indigenous" (indigène) status of French subjects in colonial areas.


Established by the French constitution of October 27, 1946 (Fourth Republic), it endured until 1958, when it was replaced by the French Community by Charles de Gaulle's Fifth Republic.


Frederick Cooper, historian of Africa and professor at New York University, writes that the French Union had six components:

  1. "European France, divided into departments;
  2. 'Old' colonies, notably those of the Caribbean that became departments in 1946, plus the enclaves of Senegal (the Quatre Communes), whose inhabitants were citizens;
  3. 'New' colonies, including most of French Africa, renamed overseas territories, whose inhabitants were mostly subjects;
  4. Algeria, whose territory was integral to the French Republic but whose people were divided into citizens, mostly of European origin, and subjects with diminished civil and political rights, the category into which most Muslim Algerians fell;
  5. Protectorates, which had come under French rule by treaty, which had their own nationalities, and whose rulers were considered sovereign, including Morocco, Tunisia, and most of Indochina;
  6. Mandates, such as Cameroon and Togo, which were inherited by the UN from the League of Nations, and which France ruled as a trustee, not a sovereign, and which could potentially acquire their own nationalities."[1]

Withdrawals from the French Union[edit]

  • Cambodia withdrew on 25 September 1955.[2]
  • South Vietnam withdrew on 9 December 1955.[3]
  • Morocco withdrew on 2 March 1956 on becoming independent.
  • Tunisia withdrew on 20 March 1956 on becoming independent.
  • Laos withdrew on 11 May 1957 by amending its constitution.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alternatives to Nationalism in French West Africa, 1945-60." Pp. 110-37 in Marc Frey and Jost Dülferr, eds., Elites and Decolonization in the Twentieth Century. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
  2. ^ [ Displaying Abstract ] (2012-04-30). "CAMBODIA SEVERS TIES WITH FRANCE - Declares Her Independence - Prince Norodom Takes the Post of Premier - Article -". 
  3. ^ "Pentagon Papers Part IV A 3" (PDF). 1954–1960. 
  4. ^ "Laos".